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“It’s a story about a bunch of friends who happen to be young and gay,” says Greg Berlanti, director of The Broken Hearts Club, the opening-night film for the 20th Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival. “They’re like an extended family–screwy, dysfunctional, yet wonderful. It’s the gay Diner, and I’ve played just about all the characters in it.” Berlanti, a graduate of Northwestern University and executive producer of Dawson’s Creek, finished the script while doing temp jobs in Hollywood. It took him a while to find a producer, but eventually he got Sony to bankroll him–the first time a studio has backed a gay film since The Boys in the Band three decades ago. Brenda Webb, who’s on the festival’s selection committee, says gay films are becoming mainstream. “This year we considered more than 400 entries,” she says. “As recently as ten years ago we had to look far and hard for these films. Then there was a dramatic surge in submissions, followed by a plateau. But now we’re seeing an uptick again.” The Broken Hearts Club will screen at 7:45 on Thursday, November 2, at City North 14, 2600 N. Western, following a 6 PM reception; tickets are $45. For more information on the festival see the sidebar in Section Two or call 312-409-3191. The movie will open commercially at the Music Box on November 10.

–Ted Shen

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dan Machnik.